Those who know me well know that I have managed my personal life very discreetly. When I write, I do it for professional reasons. At the request of many who, over the years, have asked for a peek into how I feel about life and the state of the world, I share hereby my inner, most honest and truthful thoughts, the murmurs of my heart, who loves life, people and nature dearly.
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It is hard to imagine billions of peoples confined in their homes but we all are. It is with almost incredulity that we watch images of city skies without a hint of pollution, of wild life trotting along traffic lights and street crossings, of news that people are doing the impossible: being kind to each other.I’m old,  well travelled, and adventurous enough to have seen all kinds of events and become open to any eventuality. And yet, some of these scenes have brought a light to my life that has given me hope in humanity. How much have I wished that there would be less selfish, incongruous, insecure, mean, peripatetic people at meetings, airport lounges, tube escalators, cashier queues. These are the places where you suddenly feel surrounded by strangers rather than human beings you can relate to and care for. The places that, when you live in the oblivion of a big city, make you aware that you are lonely, out of place, or simply a slightly depressed. It’s called the city blues, or the urban alienation, according to whichever degree of inner sadness you may find yourself imbued.  

In the Covid-19 pandemic millions of people who live completely alone have suffered a clinical confinement of extreme isolation within the confines of their own homes. When the streets stopped providing the energy that we all crave when we leave small towns and head for the big city lights, people had to build their centres of magnetism, of kinetic energy within their small city apartments: the living room gym, the office bedroom, the party kitchen. Suddenly, a tiny 45 square meters flat becomes a wonderland, the ultimate hangout, the longest stay in a cool hotel where you could remain a guest forever. 
The Covid-19 besieged took to the challenge with gusto: taking online classes, getting fitter than ever, even more social than they were before as they went on video calls with friends that they had not spoken to in ages. All thanks to the power of pretend, that incredible survival skill that we saw Tom Hanks develop when he baptised a coconut “Wilson” and he freaked the heck out when he lost it. As we enter in some countries into the un-confinement phases and we slowly re-enter the streets, the beaches, the office buildings, the restaurants, there is an invisible item that we should all have checked out: our minds, the emotions of our children, the signs of depression in our parents.

This was a massive event in our lives to go through and no matter how swell we learned to live within its limits, we have lost our identities for three months, our freedoms that will not return any soon, and for that, we must mourn for the pain, the fear and the anger that will take residence in our souls. We know that one cannot put barriers to the sea: they will come down at the most unexpected moment, like the awful things people say when they are drunk, or the tears that roll down your cheeks when you watch an indeterminate film and you find yourself wondering: “What’s wrong with me?” If only you would know. Go and pour all that frustration out of your system right this very minute. Sanity and a solid immune system is what will get us through the next two years. The vaccines will take much longer than we are being told, or maybe we acknowledge that it is virtually impossible to create them, and we learn to co-exist with this dead, mutating pathogen until we erradicate it.
“Just as I am, I come to Thee” was a popular hymn in Edwardian times composed by Lelia N. Harris of whom nothing is known but her name and the fact that earlier in Victorian times she penned another hymn entitled “Now we made up our minds”. There are almost two centuries between this woman and me, but I feel that she and I, somehow, reached a point of similar decision and inflection. In my case, deciding to make Malaga, Spain my fourth residence - in addition to London (my home), the United States (my recreational summers), and the world cities of trade and culture where my work takes me, from Amsterdam to Kuchin, from Lima to Beijing. I come to this 3,000-year-old Phenician city with a blank page and a new book to write, guided by a sense of wonder for a town in which I have never lived before, but that a fortuitous conversation in October 2019 planted on my mind like a seed of promise, and a conference the following month brought me physically to it, sedimenting a plan that started much earlier, on the streets of Paris in the month of September. In just three months I went from realisation, to decision, to confirmation. Sitting in Le Marais at Chez Julien, I looked across the Seine, over the Louis Philippe bridge, and mustered to my friend an almost identical sentence as the title in Harris’s hymn: “I have made up my mind”.
And by that I swore to myself that I would find a place where the havoc of Brexit would not burden me on a daily basis. The white noise of Brexit was not only interfering with my creative processes, but also beginning to instill within me a sense of paradise lost that each day, in my walks around Holland Park, reminded me that the London and the Britain that I knew since 1994 would change forever, and for uncertain reasons that no one could pinpoint. It was taking a grip around my heart, and beginning to affect how I felt about the future. 

As I drove down from the hills of Granada towards the sea, Malaga appeared in the sunset dusk of Andalusia: gold, fuchsia and lapislazuli. Unexpectedly, a sentence bursted from my heart: “I come to Thee, Malaga, as I am, and as I hope to be: intensely creative, passionately imbued in your energy, in your sea and your mountains”. Still hesitant to descend towards the tip of Europe after a lifetime of Northern Lights and Arctic ventures, I felt committed to fall in love with an ancient  land and all that it had to offer. My hands wrapped themselves around the steering wheel even tigher. "Here we go", I muted.